Mazel tov to Johannes Reiss, who received the Vienna Jewish Community (IKG)’s highest award for his “services to the Austrian Jewish Museum and for his commitment to researching and preserving Jewish cultural heritage in Europe. “
Reiss, an expert in Jewish gravestone inscriptions, recently retired as the longtime director of the museum and specialises in Jewish cemetery research and documentation, particularly in Austria’s Burgenland region southeast of Vienna. He has long been active in aiding Jewish genealogists and family historians.
“[I]t is my task to document the ‘human hearts’ of the old gravestones for the next 30 years in order to make the traces of their ancestors visible, especially for those generations who mostly live far away from Austria,” he said.
(Click HERE to read our post about his project to affix QR codes to ancient gravestones to enable visitors to learn about them.)
Reiss was one of three people to receive the Marietta and Friedrich Torberg Medal at a ceremony Thursday, the first night of Hanukkah.
Reiss has “tirelessly pointed out the heritage of Jewish culture in Burgenland through his work and academic activities. It’s not just about documenting graves, but also about giving the deceased a name and giving their descendants the opportunity to discover their roots,” IKG president Oskar Deutsch, who presented the awards, said.
The other two awards went to Andreas Kahrs and Daniel Lörcher, “for their commitment to combating anti-Semitism in sport[…] and their contribution to the culture of remembrance in Europe.”
“Since October 7th we have been confronted with a wave of anti-Semitic attacks,” Deutsch said. “At the same time, we see a majority that shows itself to be humane and stands up to hatred. They bring light into the darkness […] The work of the honored guests recognized today brings light into the darkness and strengthens us as a society and as a Jewish community.”